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Patricia Jobe Pierce

Presley, Elvis (08 January 1935–16 August 1977), singer, was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, the son of Vernon Elvis Presley, a truck driver, and Gladys Love Smith, a seamstress and laundress. (His middle name is spelled “Aron” on his birth certificate and “Aaron” on his tombstone. The correct spelling is “Aaron,” to honor Vernon Presley’s close friend Aaron Kennedy.) His twin brother was stillborn, prompting his mother to be overprotective; Elvis’s father, however, showed little interest in the boy. At the fundamentalist Parkertown Church of God and Prophecy, mother and son would daily pray, sing, and heed the ministers who told destitute parishioners like themselves that hardship and misfortune should be combated with ardent Christian faith. Classified as “undeserving poor” because they were in debt and on welfare, the uneducated Presleys believed that a lack of good fortune on earth held the promise of glory in the afterlife. From this belief came Elvis’s lifelong need to sing “a joyful song unto the Lord.”...

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Valens, Ritchie (13 May 1941–03 February 1959), pioneer rock and roll singer and musician, was born Richard Steve Valenzuela, the son of Joseph Steve Valenzuela, a tree surgeon who also worked at a variety of jobs such as mining and training horses, and Concepcion Reyes Valenzuela, in Los Angeles, California. Both parents lived in San Fernando, a suburb in Los Angeles County, and worked in a munitions factory in Saugus, just north of San Fernando. At the time of Ritchie's birth Concepcion, or Connie, as she preferred to be called, had a four-year-old son from a previous marriage. Before Ritchie was three, his parents separated; Ritchie stayed with his father, who had recently bought some property in nearby Pacoima. His parents, however, continued to see each other until his father's death in 1951....